Which Are The Top 10 Successful Startups In India?

Which Are The Top 10 Successful Startups In India?


India is said to have the third largest startup ecosystem in the world after the US and China

Inc42 presents a list of the 10 most successful startups from diverse sectors in India

This list is collated based on the estimated current valuation of the startups 

The Indian startup ecosystem is said to be the third-largest in the world and continues to attract investors from all over as business opportunities grow. Home of the largest ecommerce deal between Walmart and Flipkart, 31 unicorns and counting, and plenty of untapped opportunities — it shouldn’t come as a surprise that India has been home to some of the biggest startup success stories.

And the impact of India’s most successful startups is not just felt in the country, but across the world, as Indian startup products and services cross over to international markets.

The Most Successful Startups In India

Over the years, Indian startups have found success across sectors, with startups in enterprise tech, ecommerce and travel tech grabbing global attention. At the same time, many of the most successful startups in India are also looking to expand their footprint and reach, particularly in Tier 2 and 3 cities.

  • InMobi – Adtech Indian Startu - InMobi

Naveen Tewari founded InMobi in 2006, but it pivoted to become a mobile advertising and content discovery platform at a later stage. InMobi supports businesses in launching captivating ad campaigns on mobile devices through app partners, and in making smart marketing decisions on where to spend their money. Tewari led a number of acquisitions at InMobi, growing the company so phenomenally that it became India’s first unicorn.

Founded as an SMS-based mobile search platform called Mhkoj, InMobi’s mobile ads and discovery network currently serves over 1.64 Bn devices (March 2019) globally. The adtech startup, turned profitable in the last quarter of 2016, soon after crossing 1 Bn active devices in 2015. While the US continues to be InMobi’s top territory in terms of revenue thanks to the larger app economy, China has become its second-largest market. InMobi is putting up a tough fight with the two biggest global players in the space — Facebook and Google — for a slice of the worldwide mobile internet ad spending pie.

Launch Year: 2007
Founders: Naveen Tewari, Amit Gupta, Mohit Saxena
Headquarters: Bengaluru
Total Funding: $ 320 Mn
Key Investors: SoftBank, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Tennenbaum Capital Partners, Sherpalo Ventures
Unicorn Since: 2014
Estimated Valuation: $1 Bn
  • Swiggy – Consumer ServicesFoodtech Startup - Swiggy

Swiggy started its operations in Bengaluru’s venerable Koramangala neighbourhood in 2014, covering just one neighbourhood with six delivery executives and 25 partner restaurants. It provides a complete food ordering and delivery solution from a wide range of restaurants to the urban foodie. Today, it has over 2.1 lakh active delivery partners and processes nearly 1.4 Mn food orders daily across India, compared with about 700K orders per day last year.

In October 2019, it announced the launch of operation in its 500th city and plans to expand to 600 cities by December 2019, with the most recent funding from Naspers and Tencent Holdings of $1 Bn. The growth has come at the expense of profits; Swiggy ended FY 2018-19 with 93% rise in losses with a total loss of INR 397 Cr.

Launch Year: 2014
Founders: Nandan Reddy, Rahul Jaimini, Sriharsha Majety
Headquarters: Bengaluru
Total Funding: $1.27 Bn
Key Investors: DST Global, Naspers, Bessemer Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Accel, SAIF Partners
Unicorn Since: 2018
Estimated Valuation: $3.3 Bn
  • Flipkart – EcommerceEcommerce Startup - Flipkart

Flipkart was founded by Sachin and Binny Bansal in 2008 with a sum of $6,000 (INR 4 Lakh). It went on to become one of the largest ecommerce startups in India and is now valued at a whopping $20 Bn. Flipkart has had many a milestone in its decade-long journey, one of the biggest being the $16Bn investment by Walmart making it the largest ecommerce deal in the world, and since then it has also burgeoned its payments business with a sharper focus on PhonePe, which has grown into a unicorn by itself.

Of late, Flipkart has been diversifying its operations by getting into the OTT space with Flipkart Videos and food retail business with Flipkart FarmerMart.

Launch Year: 2007
Founders: Sachin Bansal, Binny Bansal
Headquarters: Bengaluru
Total Funding: $7.3 Bn
Key Investors: SoftBank, Naspers, Tiger Global Management, Microsoft, Tencent, eBay, Steadview Capital, DST Global, Accel Partners
Unicorn Since: 2012
Estimated Valuation: $24 Bn
  • BYJU’S – EdtechEdtech Startup - ByJu's

What started out as a simple e-learning platform has grown into one of the world’s largest edtech brands. BYJU’S today offers various online secondary and senior secondary courses suited to the Indian schooling system along with online study material for competitive examinations such as IAS, CAT, GRE, study material from Class IV to Class X for both CBSE/ICSE students and learning modules for pre-school children.

Since the launch of its learning app it has registered 35 Mn users and 2.4 Mn annual paid subscribers. The company said that in April 2019, BYJU’S crossed INR 200 Cr ($28.61 Mn) in monthly revenue. BYJU’S was last valued at $ 5.7 Bn and has raised over $969.8 Mn funding from investors such as General Atlantic, Tencent, Naspers, Qatar Investment Authority, and Canada’s Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) among others.

Launch Year: 2008
Founders: Byju Raveendran, Divya Gokulnath
Headquarters: Bengaluru
Total Funding: $819 Mn
Key Investors: General Atlantic, Tencent Holdings, Verlinvest, Sequoia Capital India, Sofina, Aarin Capital, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Unicorn Since: 2018
Estimated Valuation: $5 Bn
  • Freshworks – Enterprise Tech Enterprise Tech Startup - Freshworks

Girish Mathrubootham, the founder of SaaS startup Freshworks (formerly Freshdesk), is hailed as the thalaiva (boss in Tamil) of the Indian SaaS industry. Mathrubootham has taken Freshworks from strength to strength since he founded it in 2010. Today, the startup is a member of the burgeoning unicorn club of India and is valued at $1.5 Bn.

SaaS startup Freshworks is currently headquartered in San Bruno, California and has offices in India, the UK, Germany, and Australia. Freshworks has been revolutionary in integrating technology with SaaS and has more than 150K clients worldwide — including companies such as NHS, Honda, Rightmove, Hugo Boss, Citizens Advice, Toshiba, and Cisco, among others. With its newest products, it’s also looking at the growing market of startups and SMEs.

Freshworks is reportedly working towards an initial public offering (IPO) as early as 2021. The listing is expected to be on New York-headquartered stock exchange, NASDAQ.

Launch Year: 2010
Founders: Girish Mathrubootham, Shan Krishnasamy
Headquarters: Chennai
Total Funding: $ 249 Mn
Key Investors: Accel, Sequoia Capital India, Tiger Global Management, CapitalG
Unicorn Since: 2018
Estimated Valuation: $1.5 Bn
  • Paytm – FintechFintech Startup - Paytm

While Paytm began as a digital wallet, it has morphed and taken on new verticals within payments many times over the years. To its credit, Paytm has managed to keep its services relevant and compliant to the changing regulatory and fintech trends. It claims to have more than 130 Mn active users today and besides individual payments and transactions, customers can pay bills for utilities, transfer funds to other bank accounts, book flights, trains and movie tickets and more.

Paytm’s turning point came with the demonetisation of high-value currency notes in November 2016. Its user base grew from 125 Mn users before demonetisation to 185 Mn three months after. Since then, it has continued to grow, hitting the 300 Mn mark in 2018. It has also diversified to incorporate six new entities — Paytm Financial Services, Paytm Entertainment, Paytm Money, Paytm Mall, and Paytm Insurance Corporation, and more.

Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma has said Paytm will be looking to get publicly listed after 2021, when the fintech company starts generating cash.

Launch Year: 2010
Founders: Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Headquarters: Delhi-NCR
Total Funding: $ 2.5 Bn
Key Investors: SoftBank, Alibaba, Berkshire Hathaway, SAIF Partners, Intel Capital, and SAP Ventures
Unicorn Since: 2015
Estimated Valuation: $15 Bn
  • Delhivery – LogisticsLogistics Startup - Delhivery

Logistics unicorn Delhivery is the brainchild of Sahil Barua, Mohit Tandon, and Suraj Saharan. Delhivery was launched in 2011 with the aim of disrupting the logistics supply chain market in India. The startup currently provides services in about 600 cities across 8,500 pin codes in India. It has 12 fulfilment centres for B2C and B2B services and works with ecommerce giants such as Flipkart and Paytm.

In FY18, the company reported a jump of 42% in its revenue gaining total revenue of $153.26 Mn (INR 1,073.64 Cr). Here, its operational revenue contributed almost 95% to its total revenue as against $107.92 Mn (INR 756 Cr) for the previous year.

Launch Year: 2011
Founders: Bhavesh Manglani, Kapil Bharati, Mohit Tandon, Sahil Barua, Suraj Saharan
Headquarters: Delhi NCR
Total Funding: $670 Mn
Key Investors: SoftBank, Fosun, Carlyle Group, Tiger Global, Nexus Venture Partners, Times Internet
Unicorn Since: 2019
Estimated Valuation: $1.6 Bn
  • Dream11 – Media and EntertainmentDream11

Nobody thought India would have a gaming startup that will earn global acclaim. But Dream11 has done just that and largely because of its association with the biggest cricketers in the world, and its focus on capturing the market around tournaments such as Indian Premier League as well as customising fantasy football gaming for the Indian market.

It took the company three years to hit its first million users, and soon after that, it crossed 3 Mn users in less than two months. Today, Dream11 boasts of 50 Mn users and sports-related websites regularly cover fantasy game predictions as they would cover actual cricket matches.

As cofounder Bhavit Sheth told Inc42 earlier this year, Combined users from Tier 2, Tier 3 and Tier 4 are much more higher than Tier 1 because when we grew from 300K to 10 Mn and so on, the last few growth spurts have come from the lower tier cities like Lucknow, Kanpur, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Jaipur etc.

Launch Year: 2011
Founders: Harsh Jain; Bhavit Sheth
Headquarters: Mumbai
Total Funding: $100 Mn
Key Investors: Steadview Capital, Kalaari Capital, Think Investments, Multiples Equity
Unicorn Since: 2019
Estimated Valuation: $1 Bn
  • Ola – MobilityOla

Bhavish Aggarwal was travelling from Bengaluru to Bandipur when the driver of his cab abandoned him en route his destination over a failed renegotiation of the deal. His experience of being stranded in the middle of nowhere drove Aggarwal to launch cab aggregation startup Ola.

He roped in cofounder Ankit Bhati and, after extensive market research, Ola was born in 2010 and is now offering its services across 50 cities in India, UK, Australia and New Zealand. The company claims to complete over a billion rides annually with its over 1.5 Mn drivers

Ola’s services include online booking of auto-rickshaws and bikes as well as vehicles. It has also come up with a connected car platform called Ola Play and recently ventured into the self-driving market with Ola Drive. It’s also betting big on electric vehicles with Ola Electric, which became India’s fastest unicorn earlier this year.

Beyond mobility, the company has entered the food delivery and cloud kitchen business as well with the launch of Ola Khichdi Experiment.

Launch Year: 2010
Founders: Bhavish Aggarwal, Ankit Bhati
Headquarters: Delhi NCR
Total Funding: $ 3.2 Bn
Key Investors: SoftBank, Tencent Holdings, Tekne Capital
Unicorn Since: 2014
Estimated Valuation: $6.2 Bn
  • OYO – Travel TechOyo

Ritesh Agarwal, who started out as a teen entrepreneur, has transformed his startup into India’s largest hospitality company. OYO currently operates in more than 800 cities across India, China, the UAE, Malaysia, US, Europe, Indonesia and other countries. The company’s valuation is estimated to be $16 Bn after its latest round.

With more than 35K hotels and 125K vacation home, and over 1.2 million hotel rooms in 800 cities and 80 countries, OYO works in close proximity with its partners while exercising full control over the hotel rooms, ensuring a quality experience for its customers.

As part of the service, OYO turns all types of properties into modern, fully-furnished hotels under its brands OYO Townhouse, OYO Rooms, and OYO Flagship. Over the past year, OYO has focussed heavily on the coworking space with OYO Workstation and its acquisition of Innov8.

Launch Year: 2013
Founders: Ritesh Agarwal
Headquarters: Delhi NCR
Total Funding: $1.7 Bn
Key Investors: SoftBank, Greenoaks Capital, Huazhu Hotels Group, Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners
Unicorn Since: 2018
Estimated Valuation: $16 Bn

As the Indian startup ecosystem grows and the market for tech services and products expand, many more unicorns and soonicorn startups will be joining this list of the most successful startups in the India startup ecosystem.

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